Randomized controlled study of a cosmetic treatment for mild acne

Clin Exp Dermatol. 2012 Jun;37(4):346-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2230.2011.04317.x. Epub 2012 Feb 27.


Background: Cosmetic products are not tested with the same rigour as medical treatments, but recent high-quality studies have shown significant reductions in changes of skin ageing with use of cosmetic antiageing products.

Aim: To test whether a cosmetic 'anti-spot' two-step treatment containing a complex of seaweed-derived oligosaccharide and zinc would produce a significant improvement in mild acne.

Methods: A double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial of this treatment was performed for 8 weeks on 60 age-matched participants with mild acne. They were divided into two groups: 30 participants were treated with vehicle control and 30 with the active treatment containing a seaweed-derived oligosaccharide complexed with 0.1% zinc pyrrolidone.

Results: After 8 weeks, both groups had a reduction in comedones, papules and pustules, and this was significantly greater in the active than control group at 2, 4 and 8 weeks.

Conclusions: Cosmetic products may offer some benefit for mild acne and still meet the requirements of the European Cosmetic Directive. In particular, the seaweed-derived oligosaccharide complexed with 0.1% zinc pyrrolidone used in this study produced a significant reduction in acne vs. a control treatment. Cosmetic companies should conduct blinded controlled trials of their product's efficacy and publish the results.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cosmetics / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oligosaccharides / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Seaweed / chemistry*
  • Young Adult
  • Zinc Compounds / therapeutic use*


  • Cosmetics
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Plant Extracts
  • Zinc Compounds